Entertainment » Theatre

"TRU" :: An Intimate Night with Truman Capote

by Lisa Lipsey
Saturday Nov 15, 2014

Diversionary Theatre presents "TRU", a one-man show starring local acting favorite Todd Blakesley.

Written by Jay Presson Allen and adapted from the author's own words and work, "TRU" shares two nights in the life of Truman Capote. Alone and lonely in his New York City apartment the week before Christmas, 1975, Capote soothes himself with pills, vodka, cocaine and chocolate truffles, musing about his checkered life and career.

Todd Blakesley jokes about having a lot more personal attention from the director. "He has to talk to me, answer my questions or shrivel up and crawl in a corner, but he can't escape me," quips Blakesley.

Director Derek Livingston notes that this is his San Diego directorial debut. "I am delighted to be working with Blakesley. He is a fixture in this community [laughs], like a rifle on the wall. To work with Blakesley is a gift. He is a committed professional and more prepared than even I am. I like to start on extensive research four months before a show; Blakesley did even more than I have. We began rehearsals last week... he started memorizing his lines six weeks ago."

Livingston, whose background includes an undergraduate degree from Brown University, worked in Washington and Philadelphia before taking on numerous award-wining directing gigs at Celebration Theatre (Diversionary's LGBT sister theatre in Los Angeles). Most recently he has been spotted working at the Cygnet and the Playwrights Project there.

"For 30 years, I have been committed to telling LGBT stories. It is important to me. To have the opportunity to direct the San Diego premiere of the story of this intriguing, contemporary, well known and so obviously gay man, at a theatre with a rich history of honoring the LGBT community, is exciting," said Livingston. "This show is an exciting roller coaster. It has fun, gossip, heartache and truth. A really great script with an actor doing really great things," he added.

Blakesley, who identifies as straight, appreciates "Getting into the body of Capote - someone perhaps so completely different from me, and yet there are a huge amount of similarities. That's the beauty of artists and what they create. People are attracted to art because they crave connection. Capote is a person that challenged beliefs; people would love his books and then read up on him and hate his lifestyle, all his human foibles. The work of art he created is himself, his writings and his whole life."

When asked about his background, the quirky and quick Blakesley says, "How did I get my start in theatre? That was so long ago I can't remember... Hum, well Truman would make it up, so I'll make it up [laughter]. Let's see, I started doing puppet shows in second grade, sketch comedy by fifth grade and then at some point, I joined the drama department. I have been performing outside of school since 1966. Unlike Derek, I barely have a high school diploma. I love a process I call'total immersion theatre.'I started using it at the Crystal Palace in the '70s. It blends 'actor' and 'audience' into the same dramatic and ethereal situation."

A native San Diegan, Blakesley has worked in every vein of theater from administrative to creative. He is Festival Coordinator for the San Diego International Fringe Festival, now entering its third year and is co-creator of Twainfest, the free literary festival just finishing its fifth year. He served as managing director of Bowery/Blackfriars Theatre and Women's Repertory Theatre (which he co-founded) and was artistic director for three Actors Alliance Festivals. He is a dramaturge for Playwrights Project and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. His work as an actor, producer, director and playwright has been seen in California, Washington, Florida, Minnesota, New York and throughout the Canadian Fringe. He has performed locally at the San Diego REP, Moxie Theatre, Intrepid Shakespeare, North Coast Repertory and the La Jolla Playhouse WOW [Without Walls] Festival. So, while TRU marks his Diversionary debut, Blakesley is seasoned to perfection.

The bottom line from Livingston: " 'TRU' had a multi- award-winning run in Los Angeles, and The Rage Monthly readers shouldn't miss the chance to be immersed in an intimate evening with a quirky author and better known gay man of the 20th Century."

"TRU" at the Diversionary Theatre runs Thursday, November 20 through Sunday, December 21. For tickets and more informa- tion call 619.220.6830 or go to diversionary.org

Copyright Rage Monthly. For more articles from Rage visit www.ragemonthly.com


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